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Issue 15 - Spring 2016


Welcome to the Spring edition of our newsletter! After a short break we are back with updates on the N/P and Secondary Education Councils, details of new projects supported by the Community Fund and various updates on health and safety issues. Why not check out our regular column, "Love Laeken" and find out about what the Dreve Sainte Anne looked like before it became the busy street it is today!

On the services front, remember that the first enrolment phase for transport closes on 31 May 2016. Enrolments for extra-curricular activities will open on 1 June so keep checking the website for details of the activites. You should also have received details about the upcoming Performing Arts Day via email - for those of you who are wondering what Periscolaire involves, this is an excellent opportunity to come and see!

Finally, you should have received detils via email about this year's Somerfesto. The Somerfesto Committee has organised a wide range of exciting activities for kids of all ages to enjoy. Please volunteer to help make it the most successful school party ever! 

Comments? Questions? Contributions? This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Drève Saint-Anne is an ancient pilgrimage route. It connected the medieval church in Laeken with the fountain and St. Anne’s Chapel, from which the Drève gets its name. The painting above shows Drève St Anne sometime around 1725. It is amazing to reflect on the fact that today’s EEB4 scholars, when walking to school with Laeken church behind them, are retracing the steps taken by pilgrims since the Middle Ages. The medieval church visible in the painting was built around 1275. All of it, except for its “Gothic choir”, was demolished in 1904.The Gothic Choir, which is prominent in the painting, is located in Laeken Cemetery. The interior can be visited as part of a guided tour (e.g. Laeken Decouverte) and it is worth a visit: the painted walls alone are beautiful to see. The goal of the pilgrims was to pray before a statue of The Madonna and Child, which was reputed to have miraculous powers. The statue, which still exists, was extensively restored in 1872. This is what it now looks like:

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lovelaekenmonument1This monument, which is also known as the Leopold monument, is dedicated to Leopold the first, who was the first King of Belgium (21 July 1831- 10 December 1865). It was inaugurated on Belgian National Day 21 July 1880. The architect was Louis de Curte. The basic structure consists of nine columns, arranged in a circle. The columns represent what were then the nine provinces of Belgium (In 1995 Brabant was divided into Flemish-Brabant and Walloon-Brabant, so there are now 10 Provinces in Belgium). Each column has a statue depicting that province:

  1. Antwerp (commerce and navigation);
  2. East-Flanders (mills and horticulture);
  3. Brabant (royal sceptre) ;
  4. Limburg (agriculture);
  5. West-Flanders, (fishing);
  6. Hainaut (coal);
  7. Liège (armoury);
  8. Luxembourg (hunting) and;
  9. Namur (metallurgy).

Each statue was designed by a different sculptor, which gives the monument a certain degree of some individuality and character. The statue of King Leopold I, sculpted by the renowned royal sculptor Guillaume Greefs, is located in the middle of the monument, on a plinth. The arches connecting the nine columns symbolise the unity of the nine provinces, and thus that of Belgium, surrounding and protecting their King. The spire of the monument is modelled on the spire of the town hall in the Grand place.

In the first photo, you can see that the statue is surmounted by a bronze sculpture “The genius of art” by Guillaume De Groot. It was removed for safety reasons, probably fairly soon after the memorial was inaugurated, as this postcard would tend to indicate:




The bronze sculpture is now on the roof of the Musee Royaux des Beaux arts.

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What is the link between a sculpture in Laeken and Maserati cars?

You may have seen many times this sculpture of Neptune, close to the Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Tower, without taking any particular notice of it: but it is something quite special and beautiful which warrants a closer look.lovelaeken6

The sculpture and surrounding fountain is an exact replica of the original, located in Bologna, and which was commissioned in 1563 by Cardinal Carlo Borromeo (1538-1584) in honour of Pope Pius IV (pope from 1559-1565). Cardinal Borromeo was canonised a saint in 1610.A Flemish sculptor - Jean de Boulogne (1529-1608) also known as Giambologna - sculpted the original Neptune and the subsidiary figures. The surrounding fountain was designed by Tommaso Laureti. The work took three years to complete (1563-1565). Jean de Boulogne began his art studies in Antwerp but moved to Italy in 1550. Although greatly influenced by the work of Michelangelo (1475-1564) he developed his own mannerist style which emphasises “refined surfaces, cool elegance and beauty” (source: Wikipedia).

A member of the prestigious Academy of Art and Design, founded by Cosimo De Medici, Jean de Boulogne is considered to have been one of the most significant sculptors under the artistic patronage of the De Medici family in Florence. His sculpture in Bologna is justly described as “one of the masterpieces of the renaissance” (source: musee de l’eau et de la fontaine, Belgique). 

However, the story goes that Jean was disappointed not to have been chosen by the De Medici family to sculpt the Fountain of Neptune in Florence, which commemorates the marriage of Francesco De Medici. He therefore put extra effort into his design for the sculpture in Bologna, and won the commission.

Here is a picture of the sculpture and fountain in Bologna:



At the base of the fountain are four water-nymphs – one at each corner. At Neptune’s feet are four cherubs who each hold a dolphin in their arms. The four winds are depicted on the plinth supporting the sculpture. The perfection, elegance and sheer beauty of Jean de Boulogne’s “mannerist” sculpture impressed King Leopold II, who saw it whilst on a visit to Bologna. He arranged for a mould to be taken of the original, from which an exact replica in bronze was cast by Giorgio Sangiorgi the eminent sculptor and art collector.

The replica was erected in the Royal Domain in Laeken in 1903. Maserati, the prestigious car manufacturer, was founded in Bologna in 1914. Since 1926 it has used a trident logo on its cars, which is based on Neptune’s trident from the sculpture.

Thus, there is a design-link between our sculpture in Laeken and Maserati cars!

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With Valentine’s Day approaching, readers may be interested in knowing about the tomb of Louise Flignot (1850-1916) and Léonce Evrard (1847-1919) in Laeken Cemetery, which bears testament to their eternal love. When his wife died in 1916, the heartbroken Léonce asked George Ernest de Larabie, an architect from Uccle, to build her sepulchure. Leoncé devised the “summer solstice” heart, which can be seen in the attached picture. lovelaeken9

Every year, just before noon on 21 June, the sun shines through a specially-designed aperture in the roof to form a perfect heart. The statue of the weeping mourner points to where the heart will appear. It is said that when designing his “summer solstice” heart, Léonce was inspired by the cosmic elements of ancient Egyptian architecture. For instance, Wikipedia  informs us that the “Great Temple of Abu Simnel is aligned so that twice a year the rising sun illuminates the statues of the gods in its innermost room”. When Léonce died in 1919, he was interred beside his wife: so they are united for eternity.Their tomb, also designed by Leoncé in collaboration with the architect, is very beautiful. It is a small classically-designed hexagonal tomb. It is situated very close to Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker” in Laeken cemetery.

Léonce Evrard was a marble-sculptor. His workshops were located here in Laeken, close to the church. Some of his work can be seen in St. Gilles’ town hall.

The painter Jean de la Hoese painted the portraits of Léonce Evrard and Louise Flignot. They are kept in the Museum of Fine Art in Rue de la Régence near the Sablon. Unfortunately, these portraits cannot be viewed, because the gallery where they are located has been closed to the public for more than 4 years now. This is a sculpture of Louise Flignot. 


“What will survive of us is love” (Philip Larkin, from “An Arundel Tomb”)

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